Maintain and Improve Emotional Health

“People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings and actions. They can navigate life’s challenges with relative ease and bounce back from setbacks. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships” [1]

What is Emotional Health?

Emotional health tends to be confused with mental health and while there are overlaps between the two, I don’t believe they are the same. 

I view mental health as how the mind processes information and experiences, whereas emotional health is how we manage and express the emotions that arise from what we’ve learnt and experienced.

Both are equally important for overall health – our feelings around a situation will be affected by whether we interpret things positively or negatively, or whether we can remain neutral to what happens.

So, what can we do to help ensure that we are emotionally healthy?

  1. Meditation – My number one practice! There is so much evidence to show how meditation improves every aspect of our health. A great introduction to meditation is to sit for 5-10 minutes a day and focus on different parts of the body (known as body scanning). This helps to focus the mind internally and distract it from the incessant chat! You can gradually build up the time as you become more accustomed to it.
  1. Social Connections – Spending time with family and friends is a great way to boost emotional health. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded people who love and support us is critical for our well-being. I’m sure most of us have enjoyed time with people that have left us joyful, where our faces and tummies hurt from laughing so much and we feel on top of the world. No doubt, we’ve all experienced other times where we’ve come away from an interaction feeling depleted of energy and a bit deflated. Hopefully, the first example is what we all experience mostly, but for those that feel the latter to be more true, it might be time to re-assess the relationships in your life and find people that keep your spark alight.
  1. Journaling – A great way to reflect on experiences and help express emotions. I love to write first thing in the morning after I’ve done my meditation. Some days I’ll write about things that have happened the previous day, other times I write about things that happened years ago or things I’ve been thinking about doing in the future. It’s such a good way of working through thoughts and emotions in a very cathartic way. It also allows us to see the areas in our lives that we aren’t happy with and work through those feelings in a positive, empowering way.
  1. Gratitude Practice – I believe everyone should do this daily. I could write a whole article dedicated to the practice of gratitude. It is such a good way to reconnect with the abundance in our lives. Even if we feel like we have nothing to be thankful for, there is ALWAYS something. Having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ helps to re-programme the mind to look for abundance in our lives. You might only be able to write one thing on your list to start with, but over time, you will start to notice things that would ordinarily pass you by, such as the colour of spring, or a smile from a stranger. This practice has had such a profound effect on how I perceive life.
  1. Walking in Nature – I have always found nature soothing. Whenever I feel discombobulated, I put on my music and go for a long walk in the woods. I have found this particularly beneficial during these challenging times when I can remove myself from the madness and re-connect with nature and myself. Whatever is going on in the world, nature remains the same. The trees still stand firmly rooted in the ground and the seasons continue to cycle. It is a great way to remind ourselves that our inner world doesn’t have to be affected by the outer world. There is a beautiful saying that echoes this sentiment: “Ships don’t sink because of the water around them; ships sink because of the water that gets in them. Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down”.
  1. Mindfulness – Awareness of oneself is key to creating and maintaining good health in all areas of our lives. Have you ever noticed how absentmindedly we go about our days? Especially, when we’re doing the most mundane tasks like having a shower or cleaning the house. Our minds are off in another time and place whilst our bodies are doing the work on autopilot. A lot of stress and anxiety comes from thinking about the future. Becoming more present in our bodies and focussing on the task we’re doing helps to reduce stress and overwhelm. Start using all your senses throughout the day – what can you see, smell, touch, hear and feel? You’ll be amazed at how often the mind wonders off when you start this practice, but slowly, it will become easier to live in each moment.
  1. Digital Detox – In a time where we are more connected through technology than ever before, we have never been more disconnected from ourselves and each other. Social media has us believing that other people have a far more glamorous life than we do; it can leave us feeling inadequate and wishing for something different. It can lead to the mentality of ‘I will be happy when (fill in the gap)’ which stops us from fully appreciating what we have right now. Try having a digital detox for one day a week and see how you feel. Apart from being able to give your undivided attention to a person or task, you will probably notice how much extra time you have to do the things you enjoy!

Life is a wonderful journey of ups and downs, and having good emotional health and resilience enables us to ride the waves with grace instead of clinging to the rocks.

Amanda Dungate

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